Broadchurch. Hear or read that now and your thoughts will no doubt turn to the critically acclaimed ITV crime drama starring David Tennant and the peerless Olivia Colman. But if you’d have heard or read the word three or more years ago, you might well have considered that old term ‘broad church’ – a group of people with widely differing opinions and beliefs. And series 2 of writer Chris Chibnall’s surprise smash hit certainly turned viewers into a very broad church indeed. Some loved the in-depth dissection of the case first seen in the debut run; others saw it as dull, rushed and lacking in ideas.
Both standpoints we can understand. Compared to the sheer tension and power of the first eight episodes, the Broadchurch series 2 did lack a certain something. But as a follow-up to events, it was always going to struggle to match its predecessor for fresh ideas. Some slightly poor research into legal proceedings – and the inaccuracies arising from it – stuck in the craw of a few viewers and the series definitely sagged in the middle. But a searing end had us excited for its return…
(WARNING: BROADCHURCH SERIES 2 SPOILERS BELOW!)
Broadchurch series 2 carried on from where series 1 left off, deep in the mire of the murder of eleven-year-old Danny Latimer. We’d be tempted to describe the ending of series one as a cliffhanger, but that would just be in pretty poor taste, wouldn’t it? It would also be wrong. The murderer of little Danny was revealed. It was, rather shockingly, Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller’s husband Joe.
The first follow-up season of Broadchurch begins a full seven months after the previous one ended. Its focus? The court case. The eight episodes dealt with, in the most part, the murder trial of Joe Miller and was less of a whodunit? and more of a willhegetdunforit? And the result? Well, no. He didn’t get done for it. Joe’s found not guilty, much to the surprise of everyone. After eight weeks of tense courtroom-based action, the jury set him free. But it’s not a case of happily ever after for the child killer. Danny’s father Mark and his friend Nige kidnap him and – along with an ice-cold death threat from Ellie – he’s sent packing; banished forever from Broadchurch on fear of death.
We also saw a resolution to Detective Inspector Alec Hardy’s obsession with the historic Sandbrook case. We were left waiting until the final episode to discover the grisly truth. It turned out that Ricky Gillespie killed Lisa, albeit accidentally. He smashed her head on the floor after finding her in a tryst with Lee Ashworth. Young Pippa Gillespie, who bore witness to the murder was later killed by Lee Ashworth under instruction from his partner Claire Ripley. Follow that? Right. No wonder Hardy took so long to work it all out, eh?
Broadchurch series 3 begins on Monday 27th February on ITV 1 and will see Hardy and Miller working on a new case, this time investigating a serious sexual assault. The third outing will feature plenty of returning characters, alongside new faces such as Lenny Henry, Roy Hudd and Charlie Higson (who we assume won’t be playing it for laughs). It’s set to be the final chapter in the coastal town’s grief-stricken story.
Let’s hope the final Broadchurch offers us an altar that all us crime fiction fans can worship at. We can’t wait.